Petta and Cooper Win Inaugeral AIM Weekend Walleye Series Events in Wisconsin
Under cloudy skies and winds blowing up to 25 miles an hour, the field of 83 boats spread out across the entire Winnebago chain in search of big walleyes. Catching a total of 23.62lbs to win the event and take home first place were Pete Petta and Dave Cooper. Determined to not fish the river in this event, they concentrated on the upper lakes during prefishing, catching only a handful of walleyes. Fishing the cleanest water they could find on Lake Butte Des Mortes, they only had seven bites during the tournament, but they were the right ones to catapult them to the top of the leader board.
The fish were relating to rocks on the bottom in a small area and feeding on perch. Petta and Cooper were digging number five purple colored Berkley Flicker Shads into the rocks, with the fish hitting them off the bounce. “We’ve come close to winning before,” said Petta. “This is surreal.” Cooper added, “We’ve gone into a lot of other tournaments a lot more confident than this. There was a lot of luck involved today. We’ll be the first ones to admit that!”
Second place was captured by Jeremy Bock and Mark Bartels with 22.71lbs. Trolling out of Winneconne, they had four fish in the first 45 minutes. By 9am they had their 5th fish on the score card. They continued to catch fish throughout the afternoon, making their last upgrade at 1:30pm.
While most of their walleyes were located in a half-mile stretch, as the day went on and more teams showed up pulling harnesses, they had to move out to avoid the slower moving boats. When this happened they discovered that the fish had also moved out. Number four and five purple or Firetiger Berkley Flicker Shads running three to six feet down in seven feet of water was the top presentation.
“It’s great to keep fishing all day and not have to worry about babysitting the fish,” said Bock about the AIM presentation. “I love watching them swim off,” added Bartels.
With 17.66lbs, Zack Parrish and Kyle Pawelkiewicz also fished Winneconne to take third place. In seven feet of water, they were running number five Berkley Flicker Shads in the middle of the water column going 1.8mph. Firetiger was the best color for the team.
“It was a great tournament,” said Wisconsin Director Denny Fox. “Even though the weather conditions were ugly, we’re walleye fishermen, we like this!”
He also spoke of his excitement about being a part of the new series. “Today I bet half of the boats were guys under 40 years old. I’m excited to work with the future of the sport. When the opportunity came up to work with AIM I jumped at it because this is the most conservation minded effort tournament out there. We have fun with the resource without damaging it.”
There was a 12 inch minimum for fish to be recorded during the tournament. Once measured and photographed, all fish were immediately released where they were caught. Teams submitted their top five longest fish as their official catch. The length was then converted to a weight using a standardized chart.
The next Wisconsin AIM Weekend Walleye Series Tournament will be held on Green Bay May 11th.